Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Nacional 27 -- Chicago, IL

So, once again I have been slightly slacking. Aunt Peggy thank you for the virtual kick in the ass to "lock it up" and write a post. I will start with my dinner last night but then go back and review a few of the places from St. Kitts.

So, last night a few friends and I decided to try somewhere new. We chose Nacional 27 in River North in Chicago. Here is what was ordered:
  1. Ceviche Sampler: Shrimp and Scallop • Cold Smoked Tasmanian Salmon • Ahi Tuna and Watermelon -- $11.95
  2. Grilled Tasmanian Salmon: Spinach, Fennel, Spring Onions, Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette -- $19.95
  3. Beef Tenderloin "Medallions": Spanish Cheese-Potato Gratin, Red Wine Jus Truffle, Blue Cheese -- $23.95
  4. Me: Pacific Blue Nose "Huachinango": Tomatillo Salsa, Arroz Verde, Cilantro Sauce -- $21.95
  5. Bottle of Wine: 2005 Fillaboa AlbariƱo -- $32
I will get the negatives out of the way first because overall this was a great dinner and experience and I would definitely go back to Nacional 27 again. We wanted to sit outside but decided against it as the table next to our's had a dog that was walking around our table. So, we opted to sit inside. It was a Tuesday night around 8:15. As a result, it was a pretty slow night. The wait staff was fairly slow in dealing with us. After an initial greeting from David, another server took over. This was fine as maybe it was time for David to go home since it was slow. Our new server was knowledgeable and nice but like I said, he was slow. Not like, sorry I am busy slow but almost like he forgot about us a few times. We ordered the bottle of wine and instead of leaving the bottle at the table, it was set away from us and we had no idea where it was at. Our server did refill our glasses for us but only when he saw we were sitting with near empty glasses of wine. Other then the slow service, this was truly a great experience. Once again, I attribute this to the slow night they were having.

We were started with a chef's treat of three homemade fried potato chips with a house made ceviche on it with manchego cheese and a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette. I think every single restaurant that truly serves great food should do this. No, we did not pay for it but it was a fantastic treat while we were looking over the menu and provided us with a trust in the chef that whatever we ordered was truly going to be amazing.

After long deliberation, we chose our meals as stated above. They provided us with a bread basket with homemade bread and some breadsticks along with a black bean dip and a chipotle dip. Both were great and it was nice to get different types of bread with something other then the standard butter.

The wine was fantastic, light, crisp and dry. It would have tasted even better had Rufus the dog not inhabited our outdoor table. The food was great. I did not taste The other dishes but they said the food was great. My fish was fantastic. There was a really spicy salsa verde which made each bite fantastic and luckily for me went great with the wine. I had never heard of Huachinago fish before. It is from the pacific and my waiter informed me it was similar to grouper. It was fantastic and grilled. Dinner did not last that long because the food was so good.

We decided to try some desserts. I had the coffee creme brulee. This was a let down. The creme portion was very bland with an overwhelming espresso taste at the end which was somewhat bitter. There needed to be some sort of sweetness added. Reid had the Roasted Pumpkin Flan which he was was great and tasted like really good pumpkin pie. A flan should not have the consistency of pumpkin pie but as long as it tasted good, that is what matters. I guess flavoring the flan with pumpkin automatically will make it a different consistency.

Overall a great meal and I would definitely go back. Nacional 27 has salsa dancing on the weekends which would be fun to go and watch. Apparently they have fantastic mojitos and one has habeneros in it, sounded really interesting. I would try the churros with carmel ice cream if I went back and I was very tempted to try the skirt steak since that is typically a stable at a latino restaurant.

Once again, I had a different dining experience. It was nice to have people from different aspects of my life at dinner. Everyone had met previously, which I think helps. But, once we got the ball rolling, we talked about a lot of stuff and did a little people watching (always a fun Watson past time). The nice part as well was this felt like we were actually adults. Sometimes, at the age of 26-27, people are stuck in one extreme or the other (socially speaking). They either want to run around wild and crazy like they are actually on spring break or they are married and only do the dinner party thing. This was the perfect adult mix for us because we had fun, laughed and enjoyed some wine and good food but also were able to get out to this nice dinner on a Tuesday night, something inconceivable when we were younger.

More to come....


Peggy said...

Whoa - a great dinner AND someone else paid for it? Life doesn't get much better! :) You definitely need to go back for the mojitas! OLE!

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